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Lucas done with Star Wars photo
Lucas done with Star Wars

George Lucas had no input on The Force Awakens, is done with Star Wars

Disney decided to go another direction
Nov 23
// Hubert Vigilla
When people think of Star Wars, they think of George Lucas. He brought the film series to life in the late 70s and, for better and for worse, he was the driving force behind the prequel trilogy. But these new Star Wars movies...
Force Awakens TV spot 7 photo
Force Awakens TV spot 7

New Star Wars: The Force Awakens TV spot has the return of a certain character

A familiar face returns among the pilots
Nov 23
// Hubert Vigilla
Darth Feelgood back again, and I know you're looking for another fix of the force. You're shaking, but I have something for that, buddy. Here. Here's another taste of The Force Awakens in the most recent TV spot, and you migh...
Adventure Time photo
Adventure Time

You should be watching the mini-series Adventure Time: Stakes

Cartoon Network raises the stakes
Nov 20
// John-Charles Holmes
Last year, Cartoon Network took home audiences by surprise with their first mini-series, Over the Garden Wall. The ten episode event delighted critics and fans with a short form original story, and this year Cartoon Network t...

Nobuhiko Obayashi: The Strange, the Sweet, and the Childlike

Nov 20 // Hubert Vigilla
In Alec's Cult Club piece on Hausu, he hinged some of his observations on the childlike approach to the film. Originally intended as a remake of Jaws, Obayashi went entirely in his own direction, blending his background in experimental filmmaking with the imagery of soap operas, melodramas, youth pictures, and colorful horror films. (I'd still love to see a Jaws remake done in the style of Hausu.) Obayashi turned to his 10-year-old daughter for the film's story, and it feels like the sort of story a 10-year-old would tell. There's a haunted house that eats people, and a bunch of school girls are its prey. Spooky and surreal things happen. And then Noodle Bear. I mentioned last week that Hausu feels like the fever dream of an imaginative child who's really into Scooby-Doo and Mario Bava. The events unfold with the logic of the subconscious, as Obayashi fills the film with his young daughter's fears. It's an anarchic film, a story told without an expectation of adult rules since the film is mostly about young girls fending for themselves and using their own skills and ingenuity to do it. The finished movie is like the work of a child rooting through an upended box of art supplies and being asked to make a pretty picture. And what a pretty picture. What's striking about Hausu is how the movie seems stitched together by the childlike conjunction "and then"--they went to the house and then Mac's head flew around and then the piano ate a girl and then Kung Fu jumpkicked stuff and then the man turned into bananas and then there was a flood. It's a flow of strange ideas, and if a 10-year-old girl told it to you, the stream would only be interrupted for the occasional impish giggle and a brief fit of hyperventilation to catch a breath. I Are You, You Am Me (転校生, Tenkousei) is a much quieter and down-to-earth film adapted from a novel by Hisashi Yamanaka. Sure, almost any film is much quieter and down-to-earth than Hausu, but I get a sense that I Are You is less like a movie told by a 10-year-old and more like a movie made by an adult who's taking a thoughtful look back at what it was like to be 14. I Are You is something of an adolescent minor-masterpiece, a coming-of-age story built on one of the great comedy sub-genres of the 70s and 80s: the body-swap movie. Rather than swap roles of parent and child, I Are You switches the minds of a boy named Kazuo and a girl named Kazumi during the awkward early teen years. Seeing the two child leads "act male" (snips and snails and puppy dogs' tails) and "act female" (sugar and spice and everything nice) is pretty fascinating, particularly given how gender norms have become more fluid over time, but almost all ideas of maleness and femaleness are products of their time and culture, and so the gender norms in the film are no exception. (Tangent: Maybe there's an era-specific nature to the body-swap genre? Decades when the world started to become more interconnected and the earth a little flatter?) I Are You predominantly centers on Kazuo's mind in Kazumi's body, which might be a kind of stand-in for Obayashi himself as he tries to inhabit the world of adolescence again and what it's like to be a young girl. Young actress Satomi Kobayashi has solid body language playing a guy, sort of like Hausu's Kung Fu by way of Tom Sawyer. By contrast, Kazumi's mind in Kazuo's body is meek and out of sorts, with more than a hint of deep depression. Before the body swap happened, Kazumi was a happy transfer student who's new in town. Now she's been unmoored from her own body, and she may have to move away with Kazuo's family. That unanchored, life-in-flux state is part of growing up, but here its given more metaphorical heaviness. Much of I Are You is goofy, but it arrives at a beautiful, wistful tone by the final half hour. Many coming-of-age stories are defined by a lesson that equips a child for the adult world. In I Are You, it's all about the beauty of empathy. Bound for the Fields, the Mountains, and the Seacoast (野ゆき山ゆき海べゆき, No Yuki Yama Yuki Umibe Yuki) is also a great film, and also its own animal, which speaks to Obayashi's diverse range as a filmmaker and the concerns he has as a storyteller. It's a period piece set right before World War II, focused predominantly on the lives of the children of a town as a counterpoint to the poisonous nationalism, militarism, and conformity of the adults. It's a type of coming-of-age film about empathy, and yet it's done in a style reminiscent of Yasujiro Ozu, with balanced compositions and characters looking right into the camera as they recite their lines. In terms of weirdness, Bound for the Fields splits the difference between Hausu and I Are You, like a break in the child world of experience and the adult world. Obayashi continually finds surreal, fantastical moments to play with and locates that beating human heart in the scene. When a young woman meets with a lover at night to discuss running away--she's going to be sold to a brothel, he's been conscripted into the Japanese military--there's a pair of extras above them at a dock playing with sparklers. As we come in for the two-shot of the couple, the foreground becomes filled with sparks. It's a beautiful bit of romantic dazzle. By focusing on children in Bound for the Fields, Obayashi is able to critique the absurdities and horrors of war and also the underlying creepiness of playing war as a child. As the kids simulate a battle, they chuck rocks at one another. It's fun and games, but as their bodies lay flat to play dead, it can't help but evoke thoughts of the real and forthcoming horrors of WWII; the same goes when watching the kids tied up playing prisoner and tortured enemy combatant. As the factions of children join together to save a boy's sister-in-law from life in a brothel, they come up with a type of game that doubles as a rescue mission. It reminded me of the weird solution that Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer have for getting Jim out of his jam. Mark Twain did that rescue as a farce because, as George Saunders mentioned in an essay, the ugly and logical reality of what would have happened to Jim had it not been a farce would be too dark to handle in a comic novel. Obayashi, on the other hand, takes the light and the dark of the situation, blending farce with painful social commentary. As a coming-of-age-story, Bound for the Fields deals with the way children confront the ugliness of the adult world, and also the realization that it's a world they'll eventually join.
Nobuhiko Obayashi photo
Youthful Anarchism vs. The Adult World
The largest retrospective of Nobuhiko Obayashi's work in the United States kicks off tonight at The Japan Society with a screening of House (Hausu). Hausu is Obayashi's best known work in the US, and probably the only one of ...

Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

Nov 20 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]219544:42428:0[/embed] The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2Director: Francis LawrenceRelease Date: November 20, 2015Rating: PG-13 "Whoa. Philip Seymour Hoffman." Not having prepared for the film in any way, I had completely forgotten that Mockingjay marked the actor's final performance. More than a year and a half after he died, he's onscreen again. And it's weird. Really, really weird. When he first showed up, moments into the film, the person I was sitting next to turned: "Is he real?" The answer to the question – "No" – is simple, but the implications of that answer are a little more complicated. It was decided pretty much immediately that there would be no CGI Philip Seymour Hoffman walking around, monologuing in place of the actor. It's a sign of respect, and it's one that I commend the team for doing. I'm sure the pressure to digitize him was fairly high, because his absence is felt rather heavily. Plutarch Heavensbee (ugh) is an important character to the plot, someone always lurking in the shadows and pulling the strings. But not in Mockingjay - Part 2. Here, he simply is a shadow. The film cries out for his presence, and a scene late in the film was switched up in a way that is functional but also fairly awkward. Hoffman's death complicated things, as such things so often do. That's actually a good way to describe Mockingjay - Part 2: complicated. It's complicated because it's the second part of a movie that didn't need to be two parts. These two (good) 2+ hour films could have been turned into one great three hour one. Heck, you could probably go shorter, because fully half of Part 2's runtime is taken up by scenes that aren't "bad" but also don't really do much. There's a lot of sitting around and talking, or walking around and talking, or running around and talking. The pacing is molasses slow, and ultimately a film that is only a bit over two hours (with 10-15 minutes of credits on top) feels nearly double that. This is honestly felt like one of the longest films I have ever seen, because so much time is spent on a series of very different things, but they're presented in such a way that it seems like the movie is just going to go on forever. And it does, sort of. A lot of it builds to a few different things, and though they all ultimately come to pass, it feels like they were glossed over to make way for less interesting things.  Which isn't to say that the film is boring, because it's not. It's just slow. And though it ratchets up tension at various points with interesting and strange (and kinda horrific) setpieces, the momentum doesn't continue to build. After the sequence, it just stops. And so, bizarrely, it actually feels like there are multiple films worth of narrative here that have been stripped down. It's almost episodic, with a "beginning," middle, and end for each of the different plotlines. But a lot of those episodes are just filler, and the ones that aren't could have easily been much shorter. As the second part in a two-part film, discussing specifics seems even less important than usual. You decided whether or not you were going to see this movie as soon as the credits in Mockingjay - Part 1 rolled. If you saw that cliffhanger and needed to know what happens to Katniss, Peeta, Snow, and everyone else, then you're hooked and you'll see this movie no matter what. And if you decided you didn't care? I'm not going to change your mind, because this movie isn't either. There's nothing about the narrative here that is going to appeal to anyone who didn't like the first three movies or didn't want to see what's next. I'm here not really to tell you if the movie is good, because ultimately that doesn't matter. I'm just here to think about what the experience of seeing it's like. And it boils down to this: Exhausting or not, I liked Mockingjay - Part 2. As a fan of the earlier films, I feel relatively satisfied. It's worth it to see where these characters end up and see who they are underneath it all. Some of the characters are given weird motivations that I didn't totally understand and others grew in interesting ways. But at least it all ended. After two years of cliffhangers, it was nice to get see credits set by something other than a close-up of Katniss's stressed-out face. The actual ending made me groan out loud for four solid minutes, but at this point I just wanted to know. And I got my answers. I don't need anything more from The Hunger Games. I can go on and live my life and never think about it again. I can wish that a tighter and more cohesive film ended the franchise, but why? We've got an ending, it did what it had to do, did it competently, and now it's done. Goodbye, Hunger Games. It's been fun.
Mockingjay Part 2 Review photo
The end of time
I didn't read The Hunger Games or its sequels. When the first film came to theaters, I had heard a whole lot of people talking about the books, but I didn't know anything beyond the "It's pretty much Battle Royale" premi...

Parody photo

Fifty Shades of Black trailer actually plays parody well

The Wayans can get it right sometimes
Nov 19
// Matthew Razak
We have to thank the Wayans family. If it weren't for them the movie spoofing genre would have completely died with Leslie Nielsen. Now you may be thinking, "Matt, that would be a good thing," but believe it or not there some...
NSFW photo

Dirty Grandpa red band full of a dirty grandpa

Cussing is evidently comedy
Nov 19
// Matthew Razak
I'm going to take a stab at this one and say that Dirty Grandpa isn't going to be very good. When the basis for most of your comedy is Robert DeNiro cussing you've got some work to do. The new red band trailer does show ...
Finn: The Force Awakens photo
Finn: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens TV spot focuses on John Boyega's Finn

Allow it
Nov 19
// Hubert Vigilla
Psst. Buddy. It's Darth Feelgood again. Yeah. I'm here with you're latest Star Wars: The Force Awakens fix. Got a taste for Star Wars, don't you? Yeah, well here's some more. In this new Force Awakens TV spot, the ad focuses ...
Jackson on Hobbit woes photo
Jackson on Hobbit woes

Peter Jackson talks problems making The Hobbit, didn't have enough prep time

"Didn't know what the hell I was doing"
Nov 19
// Hubert Vigilla
The Hobbit trilogy made roughly $3 billion worldwide, but it was also a bloated disappointment that felt nowhere near as taut as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The writing wasn't there, the special effects seemed less polishe...
Tetris movie photo
Tetris movie

Brett Ratner is producing a Tetris movie

"I'm the I-Block, b**ch!"
Nov 18
// Hubert Vigilla
Brett Ratner and his production company partner James Packer are reportedly developing a movie about the creation of Tetris, focusing on the game's Russian designer Alexey Pajitnov. As noted on Wikipedia, Pajitnov created Tet...
Zoolander 2 trailer photo
The beautiful people, beautiful people
A wise man once said "There's a fine line between stupid and clever." That probably best describes the first Zoolander. Well, Zoolander is back, and if this first trailer for Zoolander 2 (2oolander) is any indication, it's as...

Tomb Raider reboot photo
Tomb Raider reboot

Roar Uthaug will direct Tomb Raider film reboot, Geneva Robertson-Dworet will write it

Writing/directing team in place
Nov 18
// Hubert Vigilla
It's been more than a decade since Angelina Jolie brought Lara Croft to the big screen. I remember seeing Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life at some point back then, but can't recall anythi...
Fast and Furious photo
#Family... but divided up
Cinematic universes are all the rage thanks to Marvel and their ability to print money with theirs. Universal has been desperate to get their own, but the best thing they have to offer is turning their classic monsters into s...

Dark Tower photo
Dark Tower

Matthew McConaughey up for villain role in The Dark Tower

The Man in Black is all right, all right
Nov 17
// Matthew Razak
If you said to me that Matthew McConaughey was going to star in The Dark Tower films being made I'd instantly think he'd be playing Roland, the Stephen King series's protagonist. However, Variety is reporting that he's b...
New MST3K cast photo
New MST3K cast

New MST3K host is Jonah Ray, rumors of Felicia Day as new mad scientist, likely voices for Crow and Tom

EW may have let the cat out of the bag
Nov 17
// Hubert Vigilla
The Mystery Science Theater 3000 revival Kickstarter has successfully funded the first three episodes, raising more than $2 million in one week. That's the power of MST3K, dudes. Joel Hodsgon and Shout Factory are spearheadin...
Screenings photo

See The Night Before Early and free

Washington DC, Baltimore and Norfolk
Nov 16
// Matthew Razak
As far as Christmas comedies go we haven't had a good one in a while, but that could change with The Night Before. It's got the casts and the director to become an instant classic... for adults. Sometimes you need a little cu...
Force Awakens TV spot photo
Force Awakens TV spot

One-minute TV spot for The Force Awakens has some new footage

Here's your fix, Star Wars junkie
Nov 16
// Hubert Vigilla
Psst. Hey, mack. Yeah. I see your shakes, buddy. I know what you want. Here. Here's a new TV spot for The Force Awakens. It's a whole minute of satisfaction, brother. Take it, man, just take it. I know, I know--the shakes are...
Warcraft TV spot photo
Warcraft TV spot

Watch an international TV spot for Duncan Jones' Warcraft

A step up from the trailer
Nov 15
// Hubert Vigilla
Like Nick, I was underwhelmed by the first trailer for Duncan Jones' Warcraft. A little too heavy on CG and uncanny valley-ness, my overall impression was, "Oh, look, it's Generic Fantasy Film: The Movie." (As Rian Johns...
El Rey Way of the Turkey photo
El Rey Way of the Turkey

El Rey Network has a 72-hour kung-fu movie marathon for Thanksgiving weekend

2nd Annual Way of the Turkey
Nov 13
// Hubert Vigilla
As the resident kung fu movie dork at Flixist, it pleases me to announce that you can spend your Thanksgiving weekend watching 72 hours of kung fu movies. This is what the pilgrims crossed the ocean for, guys. The El Rey Netw...

Review: The 33

Nov 13 // Matthew Razak
[embed]220135:42699:0[/embed] The 33Director: Patricia RiggenRated: PG-13Release Date: November 13, 2015 What is this story we're talking about? Back in 2010 33 Chilean miners got trapped when a very large chunk of rock collapsed the mine they were working in. Against all odds, and while the entire world watched, the 33 were eventually rescued. This is ostensibly their story of survival, but it's also the story of how they were rescued. It is a plot so full of happiness, wonder and cliche that if it weren't for the fact that it actually happened you'd be reading a review about how the film was too unbelievable.  To be sure The 33 probably plays it a little loose with events and characters. While the miners themselves, led by Mario Sepúlveda (Antonio Banderas) and Don Lucho (Lou Diamond Phillips), are treated pretty well their above ground counterparts get a lot of fluffing. Laurence Golborne (Rodrigo Santoro), Chile's minister of mining, gets a very flattering coat of paint with the casting of a ridiculously good looking actor and the insertion of hints of romance with one of the miner's sisters. Luckily the plot line never bores out, but it speaks to just how rote the film can be. The movie hits every survival plot point it can with the emotional gusto you expect, but nothing actually special. This is especially true in the latter half of the film. While the miners are struggling to survive and the rescuers are desperately drilling down to them the film is actually surprisingly tense. Riggen does a fantastic job of developing the 33 as people and a group. The stress of being trapped in the mine is reflected and paralleled with the desperate attempts to rescue the miners. A particularly good scene brings the miners into the realm of fantasy as they eat their last supper around a long wooden table. The heavy hints of what faith means to these men reflected in the visuals of the scene. Riggen may get a bit heavy handed with her visual metaphors for faith, but she plays them well. Unfortunately the moment the drill pierces the cave it all seems to get lost. The screenplay jumps from subtle character study, to obvious social commentary as the miners become international sensations and a miniature revolution starts to occur. The moment the focus is taken off the minors and put onto the rescue the film jumps into cliche and begins to hamper everything that was built in the first half. Riggens visuals fall away as the screenplay struggles to keep the miners relevant for the months they must wait for rescue. Once survival is not longer the driving factor it seems the movie doesn't know what to do with them. It definitely grinds the performances to a halt as well. Banderas is powerful as Mario in the first half of the movie, lacing a relentless force into his performance while Phillips plays behind him, worn and afraid. I was seriously leaning towards Oscar thoughts as I watched Banderas rally the miners in the key survival speech, but as his character devolves into the film's representation for the corruption of the outside world (before, of course, redeeming himself quickly) his performance suffers. We lose the connection to the miners as the plot opens up and in turn lose the connection to the performances. What's most tragic is that The 33 never confronts anything. At the end of the film text points out that the mining company was never punished and the miners never got an retribution from them. However, the movie never really addresses this situation it's so focused on being triumphant for its last half. It hits its dramatic points just fine, but never pushes to the next level where were allowed to talk about what happened. This movie should never need to be made, but instead of looking into that fact when it has the chance it instead revels in its glorious rescue. It's a great rescue story for sure, but The 33 could have been more. 
The 33 Review photo
How do you say 'meh' in Spanish?
You could mess up the story of The 33 I suppose. It would be hard, but not impossible. You could get over melodramatic, but you'd have to try hard because the story its based on is damn melodramatic. You could screw up t...

Screenings photo

See Brooklyn early and free

Washington DC screening
Nov 13
// Matthew Razak
Brooklyn is getting a lot of buzz and could be a film you hear about once awards season really takes off. What's that mean? It means you should see it for free and then you'll be able to sound all movie smart with your friends when they wonder what that Brooklyn movie everyone is talking about is. Grab the passes below and you'll be all set to check it out. 
The Boy and The World photo
The Boy and The World

Watch the gorgeous trailer for The Boy and The World

Like an animated children's picture book
Nov 13
// Hubert Vigilla
The Boy and the World has been on my radar for a few months after seeing still from the film. This Brazilian animated feature won great acclaim at film festivals, and is currently on the shortlist for Best Animated Feature. T...
Ip Man 3 teaser trailer photo
Ip Man 3 teaser trailer

The first teaser trailer for Ip Man 3 just punched you repeatedly in the face

Donnie Yen vs. Mike Tyson
Nov 13
// Hubert Vigilla
Here it is: a US teaser trailer for Ip Man 3, the latest installment in the badass wing chun series starring Donnie Yen. Despite the presence of Sammo Hung in Ip Man 2, the sequel was a step down in general quality from ...
Fifty Shades photo
Will shoot back-to-back
Fifty Shades of Grey was a really bad movie that featured even worse behind the scenes trouble between the director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, and the book's author, Can't Write Well (possibly not her actual name). That meant ...


Jeffrey Dean Morgan cast in major Walking Dead role

(Possible) spoilers ahoy
Nov 12
// Matt Liparota
(Potential spoilers for The Walking Dead “ the TV show, that is“ upcoming; consider yourself warned.) Ever since the happy-go-lucky gang made it to the community of Alexandria on The Walking Dead last season,...
Rocky! Rocky! photo
Rocky! Rocky!

30 for 30 does Rocky IV

Ending the cold war one punch at a time
Nov 12
// Matthew Razak
A few week's ago College Humor brought us a parody of ESPN's 30 for 30 programming by creating a hilarious short on Angels in the Outfield. It worked and it worked well. It looks like they'll be continuing the series as ...
Star Wars images photo
Star Wars images

New Star Wars: The Force Awakens images and character details, let the hype flow through you

Five weeks, everyone
Nov 11
// Hubert Vigilla
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out next month, which means the relentless hype isn't stopping until we hit December 17/18th. There's a whole slew of new images from the film posted by Entertainment Weekly, including an old H...
Hausu director in NYC photo
Largest US retrospective of the director
Nobuhiko Obayashi's Hausu (House) is a favorite here at Flixist. (Alec did a great Cult Club piece on it a few years back.) It's a bit like the fever dream of an imaginative child who's really into Scooby-Doo and Mario Bava. ...

72 hours of Shia LaBeouf photo
72 hours of Shia LaBeouf

#AllMyMovies - Shia LaBeouf is watching all of his films for three straight days

But is it art?
Nov 10
// Hubert Vigilla
Shia LaBeouf's creative endeavors outside of acting have been pretty strange. There was a public art show rife with self-loathing and even a sexual assault, a short film that borrowed heavily from Daniel Clowes, and a video f...
Flop photo

Jem and the Holograms made no money so now it's gone

Seriously, it made no money
Nov 10
// Matthew Razak
There are flops and then there are flops. Jem and the Holograms is the latter. It didn't just flop for Universal it broke records while doing it. The movie pulled in just $1.37 million its opening weekend, and could...

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